Florida confirmed a case of EEE (Eastern equine encephalitis) on Aug. 3. The Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services reported a yearling Quarter Horse mare in Gulf County positive for EEE. She presented with fever, blindness, head-pressing, and recumbency (down and unable to get up) beginning on July 25. Consequently, she has been euthanized, and the facility where she resided is not under quarantine.
This is the ninth confirmed case of EEE in Florida in 2022.
EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program. It utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization. It is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.
Eastern equine encephalomyelitis is caused by the Eastern equine encephalitis virus. Wild birds are a natural reservoir for EEE. Therefore, mosquitoes that feed on EEE-infected birds can transmit the virus to humans, horses and other birds. However, horses do not develop high enough levels of these viruses in their blood. So they are not contagious to other animals or humans. There is a high mortality rate in horses and humans diagnosed with EEE. Consequently, it is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
Tips for preventing mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors, especially from dusk to dawn.
- Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin (KBR3023), or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol).
- Apply more repellent, according to label instructions, if mosquitoes start to bite.
- Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens. Also, cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
- Protect your horses: Veterinarians recommend commercially available licensed vaccines against EEE for all horses in the U.S. Horses should be vaccinated at least annually (recommendations vary in high-risk areas). It’s not too late this year to vaccinate your horses.
- Use approved insect repellents to protect horses.
- If possible, put horses in stables, stalls, or barns during the prime mosquito exposure hours of dusk and dawn.
- Eliminate standing water, drain water troughs, and empty buckets at least weekly.
- Stock water tanks with fish that consume mosquito larvae (contact your local mosquito control for assistance). You also can use mosquito “dunks” (solid “donuts” of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis[BTi]. These are nontoxic to horses) available at hardware stores.